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Peltz raises specter of war with PepsiCo to force break-up

July 16, 2014, 8:55 PM UTC
Paul Taggart—Bloomberg via Getty

Activist investor Nelson Peltz is clearly still fuming about PepsiCo’s (PEP) rejection of his repeated calls to hive off the company’s Frito-Lay snacks business: on Wednesday he hinted he may go to war with the company over the matter.

Speaking at the Delivering Alpha conference on Wednesday, Peltz told CNBC that launching a proxy fight to force PepsiCo’s hand is “a possibility.”

Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management owns 0.8% of PepsiCo stock, has been rebuffed by PepsiCo multiple times in his demand that the company split its growing snacks division from its sluggish beverage business to create “two leaner and more entrepreneurial companies.” PepsiCo has argued that his proposals are “costly distractions.”

“They are stuck in their ways and they don’t own the company,” Peltz told CNBC.

Peltz said he has been in regular touch with major PepsiCo shareholders and claimed they were sympathetic to his demands. But one person he apparently no longer speaks to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. He offered to meet with her over a Coke Zero to discuss their differences.

Nooyi said this winter in a direct response to Peltz that keeping PepsiCo’s snacks and beverage business was in shareholders’ best interests and she was confident the company could meet its long-term profit goals. She is planning to slash expenses by $5 billion over five years starting in 2015.

PepsiCo’s carbonated drinks business has been in decline for years, adding to the pressure on the company. This week, Nielsen data found that the sales volume of PepsiCo’s various soda brands fell 5.8 percent in June, a much deeper drop than Coca-Cola’s (KO) 1.3% decline.